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Bulldog News

SC State Counseling & Self-Development Center adds staff for Bulldog Recovery substance abuse program

Author: Sam Watson, Director of University Relations|Published: March 21, 2024|All News, Faculty & Staff News
Cassandra McClain
Ellen Rickenbaker

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – Two counselors have joined the Counseling and Self-Development Center as part of South Carolina State University’s grant-funded Bulldog Recovery substance abuse recovery program.

Cassandra McClain is the new Bulldog Recovery director, and Ellen Rickenbaker is a recovery counselor.

McClain is a licensed professional counselor and licensed professional counselor supervisor candidate in the state of South Carolina. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and her Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling from Columbia International University.

Her experience includes community mental health and private practice settings supporting people across lifespans, including children, teens, young adults, and their families using evidence-based practices to enhance ability for self-discovery, healing, and growth.

McClain owns and operates The Garnet Oak, a private practice located in Columbia, South Carolina. She serves on the Stronger Connections Advisory Board for Irmo Middle School.

She is a member of Iota Omicron Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. She is married her high school sweetheart, and they have two sons.

Rickenbaker is a recent graduate of the Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling Program at SC State. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from the College of Charleston.

She was a crowd favorite with the students during her internship in the Counseling and Self-Development Center, using her person-centered approach to therapy. She is glad to be back and working with the students again, while launching the Bulldog Recovery Program.

In January, the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services awarded the Counseling and Self-Development Center a $195,000 state grant to develop Bulldog Recovery, a collegiate recovery program (CRP). 

A CRP is a college- or university-provided program that includes a supportive environment within the campus culture. Bulldog Recovery will reinforce the decision to engage in a lifestyle of recovery from a substance use disorder. It will be designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery support to ensure that students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.

Bulldog Recovery is intended to increase SC State’s capacity to provide recovery support services, peer support services, harm reduction services, public education, outreach, and advocacy for students in recovery, their friends and allies via a presence on campus and in the community.